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Friday, January 29, 2010

January 30, 2010-Medical Tourism

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Judy's Medical Team

Cruising sailors visiting countries like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, which have become popular destinations for medical tourism, may take advantage of the excellent facilities and low cost of basic medical care, elective surgical procedures and emergency care which are available there.

When Judy needed back surgery we visited Putra Medical Center in Kedah Province, Malaysia and we were impressed by the clean and modern facility with its state-of-the-art MRI and CAT-Scan diagnostic equipment, the obvious competence and efficiency of the staff, and, more than anything, the confidence exuded by of the surgeon who examined Judy and who would later perform the operation.

Judy chose to have her surgery there was admitted two days later. Her operation was very successful and it was about one eighth the cost of a comparable procedure in the USA. What was more important to us was the attention and personal care she received; we were very impressed with Putra medical Center.

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Putra Medical Center

During Judy’s hospital stay at Putra we talked with Dato Dr. Lim Kim Huat, the founder and owner of Putra Medical Center, and his wife, Dato Lee Gaik Cheng, who is CEO.
Both Dr. Lim and his wife grew up in Alor Star and they are committed to providing the best, most cost effective, care they can for the people of this area. Dr. Lim, while a medical student, once had to take his mother on a long and rough motorbike trip to Penang to obtain the medical care she needed because no facilities were then available in Alor Star. That was when he made a promise to himself to someday build a hospital in his home town; a promise which, with the support and encouragement of his wife, he has kept.

Dato Dr. Lim Kim Huat, and Dato Lee Gaik Cheng told us that the 14-year-old, 230 bed, Putra Medical Center had 13 resident specialists, a total staff of 375, eight operating theaters, and is part of the comprehensive network of hospitals and clinics, which provides care to Malaysians and foreigners as well.

Malaysian medical tourism annually attracts over 300,000 foreign patients and brings in approximately USD80 million in revenue to Malaysia.

It’s not fun to be sick, but with places like Putra Medical Center at least you feel like you are getting good care.

Click here for more photos of Putra Medical Center

Click here for photos of Alor Star, the capital of Kedah, Malaysia

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Malaysia

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 28, 2010-Quiet Times in Langkawi

We're taking it easy in Malaysia.

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Relaxing at the Four Seasons

Last week we drove our rental car out to the north shore of Langkawi Island where we stopped at the Four Seasons Hotel and had lunch by the sea. It was gorgeous; so peaceful and beautiful that we very much enjoyed the short time we had there and vowed to come back. We heard about some good anchorages that were nearby. As Judy's back heals we can begin to resume sailing. For a gentle cruise we will try to bring Wings out to these waters and see if we can find those special places.

Click here to see some other images of the Four Seasons.

We've also been walking around the Rebak Marina area for exercise. One day we walked to the point on the end of the island where Malaysia meets the Indian Ocean and we gazed out to blue ocean.

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Ocean Blue

It called to us.

In a few weeks we will fly to the US for a visit with family and friends and we are very much looking forward to that trip (we hope to see you all then). But after that, after we return to Malaysia, we will begin to prepare and provision the boat for a sail across the Indian Ocean.

You can only resist the call of the ocean blue for so long, then you have to go.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Langkawi

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19, 2010-Convalescent Cruise

Since Judy's back operation we have been resting up at Rebak Island Marina in Langkawi, Malaysia. We were starting to get cabin fever and decided to go out of the marina for a short cruise. We couldn't sail yet; sailing is too much for a recovering back, but we could motor around.

Friday morning we went to the veggie truck for one last of bit shopping and we were ready except...
Party at Rebak
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on Friday night the resort threw a party for the cruisers: free drinks, free food, and great music; who could resist? Of course we didn't dance (in consideration for Judy's convalescing back) but we enjoyed it just the same.

Next day we left the marina on Wings looking for a quiet place to anchor and spend some time.

Wings at Ketapang
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We found it at Ketapang Bay on one of Langkawi's western Islands.

For four days we lazed around watching trees grow.

It was great relaxation.

If you can't dance, and can't sail, there is still...cruising.

Click here for more photos from our Convalescent Cruise

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Langkawi

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Dec 30, 2009-Langkawi Circumnavigation with Mike

We stayed well off the coast trying to avoid the puffs and lulls of the gusty winds sweeping around Langkawi’s tall forested peaks but even a couple of miles out we had shifty conditions and we had trouble keeping moving. Ahead the 47’ Herreshof Tradition was dealing with similar breeze and they looked to be stopped for a while. We hoped to get past them going outside but they got the wind first and shot out ahead with filled sails and a bone in their teeth and we couldn’t catch up. As we rounded the NW cape we got steadier wind and we waved goodbye to Tradition heading on northward as we hardened up and beat eastward toward Thailand’s Taratao Island.

It was good sailing. We’d been at the dock too long and when we pulled out of Rebak Marina with Mike Lim onboard as a guest and willing crew member for five days of cruising with fresh NE breezes in the beautiful Langkawi surroundings and it gave us the sailing fix we needed.

The day before Christmas we sailed up to Telaga for fuel, took a side trip to the cable car, and came home under spinnaker. It was fun sail up and back but Mike suffered a serious rope burn trying to douse the kite which was my fault for giving bad instructions but Mike didn’t complain even when Nurse Judy spread alcohol antiseptic all over the raw fingers; tough guy.

“Try these gloves next time Mike.” It was the least we could do.

We spent Christmas back at Rebak.

On Boxing Day, after sleeping off our Christmas meal and the effects of the night’s party, we headed north again from Rebak with the #4 up chasing Tradition and after rounding Cape Chinchin we crossed over into Thailand to investigate an open hong on Koh Belitong that we’d spotted on Google Earth. The hong was beautiful but was too shallow for Wings and we stayed the night half a mile away tucked behind Koh Panan. There were at least a dozen fishing boats also sheltering there but in the morning when we came on deck with our coffee for a look around they were gone.

Weighing the next morning the windlass groaned to a sudden halt, not moving in or out. It was jammed! The dingy was tied down on the foredeck and looking under it we found that the windlass had swallowed a loose rope which jammed up everything and broke the chain stripper. We got the anchor up with a bit of trouble and then motored out.

I asked Judy, “Can you just drive us for a while so Mike and I can look at this mess?”

“Sure”, then she asked, “Should we go back to the Marina to fix it?”

“No, I think I can get it working again.”

Mike and I spent most the day on the foredeck repairing it while Judy conned us to Hole in the Wall. It was another day with a nice wind and we could have sailed but keeping tools and parts in place on the foredeck with Wings heeled over seemed like more trouble then it was worth so we motored the whole way while Mike and I kept our heads down engineering new windlass parts which we completed successfully before the windlass was needed at Hole in the Wall anchorage.

The Hole in the Wall was a bit busy with tour boats running around but beautiful and after the tourists were all gone we picked some fish from the live tank at Hole in the Wall Resaurant and had a quiet and wonderful dinner at that floating restaurant. Later we sat out in Wings’ cockpit looking at stars and drinking rum and pineapple punches.

In a light easterly Monday morning we set the kite for the 22 mile downwind leg past the east side and around the south end of Langkawi to the fjord behind Palua Gubang Darat but the wind didn’t hold. Plodding along jibing for shifts which never materialized we overstood the southern cape in the strong ebb and finally motored the last couple of miles but it was worth it when we reached the fjord and dropped the hook in a truly magical place. In still, deep, waters we were surrounded by tall, thickly forested, cliffs reaching all the way to the sky. Eagles watched us as they soared above us and we listened to the splashes of fish jumping nearby.

A dingy ride to explore the island and one of the caves then to a nearby beach for a swim left us ready for dinner and more rum punches. Mike fished off Wings’ stern but I guess he didn’t have the right bait and no fishes were landed.

On the final day of this cruise we worked our way out of the islands and sailed up the west side of Langkawi in a nice, solid, #2 breeze, the best sail of the week, with blue water and blue skies, chasing another boat, which we didn’t catch, and too soon we were back in Rebak, the trip over.

All in all it was a great 65 mile circumnavigation of Langkawi and each of us will fondly remember the sailing and warm companionship we had aboard Wings that week.

Click here for more images from Langkawi

Click here to see the log book pages of our sailing trips in December 2009

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Langkawi

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